In recent years our small program to improve retention and graduation rates for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM disciplines has focused on encouraging campuses to obtain and use good data on STEM enrollments, migration, retention, graduation rates and time-to-degree. Using small officer grants, we funded three projects:
At the American Society for Engineering Education, focused on engineering. They are now ready to pilot test a new data collection template.
At the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, focused on time-to-degree. They are now considering what their next step should be.
At Washington University, focused on all of these issues for selective public universities, private universities, and private colleges.
The latter project, with leadership now transferred to Swarthmore College, has sparked the desire to create and institutionalize a consortium of campuses that collect uniform institutional data and survey students in order to improve understanding of undergraduate student migration into and out of science, engineering and mathematics disciplines. The group will start by reviewing and revising, as appropriate, the data collection template and survey instrument that emerged from the previous, preliminary project. The participating institutions will then initiate regular collection and reporting of data and surveying of students. At this time, fifteen institutions have agreed to participate, many of which were also involved in the preliminary project. The consortium's executive committee continues to recruit additional institutions to participate. Because it is important to have a critical mass of participants, including within each category of institution, if this request is approved, we will not issue the first check until there are at least 16 committed institutions, at least five in each of the three categories: private colleges, private universities, and public universities.